A Bite of Barcelona

I went for a minibreak in Barcelona earlier this month, and wow, the food alone was a good enough reason for visiting. It never went wrong.

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I had booked an impulse holiday after being curled up under my duvet, tired after work, feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t even know why I picked Barcelona. I hadn’t planned on visiting, and on checking the weather forecast before we left, I was disappointed to see that rain, rain, and more rain were looking likely.

However, things were looking up as the plane pulled into Barcelona airport to blue and sunny skies. A balmy 25˚C, the beach was thronged with the tanned and happily wearing shorts instead of coats.

We started out with the best burgers you could have imagined, they even rivalled my London fave Patty and Bun. Not very Spanish, but cheap and cheerful, and oh so dirty.

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Then a trip to the famous La Boqueria market, full of possibly everything you could ever imagine eating, as well as a lot you possibly never could!

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Then the finale to the trip was the most memorable meal at La Estrella, a nondescript bistro serving the most beautifully cooked plates of food, all made with seasonal and local ingredients. DSC_0980The calamari was perfectly cooked, and not in the slightest bit chewy as can sometimes be the risk.

DSC_0984The duck dish was fabulous – the contrast in textures and flavours was spot on. Then a classic dessert to finish, a tarte tatin, beautifully caramelised apples in a sea of cream. 
DSC_0987Then in between all this, plenty of meandering through the streets of the old town, munching on chocolate-filled xuxo, a delicious doughnut-like confection. We found some time to fit in a bit of culture too – visiting La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, which was truly stunning to behold, then the Picasso museum and the museum exhibiting the history of ancient Barcelona.
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The only disappointment on this trip was the hotel I booked. I found a deal online, and rashly booked it without consulting the previous reviews. Let’s say it offered great views of Barcelona, but not much else.

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So for a short holiday away,to get the tastebuds tingling and the mind refreshed, this was a trip that did not fail to impress.

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Gran Canaria

I needed a bit of a break from drizzly grey skies, and cold dark mornings, so off I went for a sunny week in the Canaries. Only once the plane landed, I realised that my hopes for perfect weather might not be completely fulfilled – it was windy, and yes, there was a little bit of rain. Looking back, all my photos seem to be permeated with the gentle shades of softened sunlight, so perhaps there was less rain than I initially thought.

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I certainly returned home with the tan to prove that I did catch plenty of sunshine, especially hiking outdoors in the mountains.

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I feel like I’ve really seen a side to Gran Canaria that most tourists don’t realise exist. There is a true joy from wandering  though miles of orange, almond and olive groves. Then the mad scramble past indigenous cave houses perched against steep inaccessible cliffs of fiery red rock scattered sparsely with prickly vegetation.

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I wish I had more photos although my camera really can’t do the spectacular (or sometimes, downright odd) scenery justice.

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Lost in the heights there was a wonderful sense of peace. If you stopped and were still – all that could be heard was the soft rustle of trees, and faraway birdsong; and far away in the distance, the dormat peak of Mount Teide.

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On a slightly aside note: for foodie followers – don’t expect to have your tastebuds tickled anything fancy. I spent my week eating mostly sandwiches and salad. If you’re feeling brave, the prickly pear fruits are edible, but I confess I never got round to trying one.